Study Guide

Decameron Ninth Day, Fifth Story

By Giovanni Boccaccio

Ninth Day, Fifth Story

Calandrino and Niccolosa

Intro

  • Storyteller: Fiammetta
  • Fiammetta thinks it's time for pure enjoyment, so she's ready to tell another tale of Calandrino.
  • She knows how hilarious everyone finds these stories, so she'll stick with the sure thing.

Story

  • A wealthy Florentine built a lovely mansion and asked Calandrino's friends Buffalmacco and Bruno to decorate it up with frescoes.
  • The two men realize that the job will be enormous, so they ask Calandrino and their friend Nello to help out.
  • The mansion's unoccupied while they work in it, except that the owner's son Filippo occasionally brings some girl or other up there to play.
  • One day, he brings a beautiful woman called Niccolosa with him. She goes out to the well to splash some water on her face and runs into Calandrino, who's fetching water for the workmen.
  • Since she's beautiful, he can't help but stare; since he's so unattractive, she can't help but look him over.
  • Calandrino interprets her stares as looks of love and Niccolosa plays this up, flirting with him for fun.
  • When he returns to Bruno, he tells him that he's fallen in love with Niccolosa, but he's worried that she's actually Filippo's wife.
  • Calandrino tells Bruno to keep his amor a secret from Nello, since he's related to Calandrino's wife Tessa.
  • No worries, Bruno says, I'll help you out, bro.
  • Bruno goes immediately to Buffalmacco and Nello to tell them all about it.
  • Then he tells Filippo and Niccolosa about Calandrino's feelings. They hatch a plan to make a fool out of him.
  • Though Bruno knows very well that Niccolosa isn't the sort of woman Filippo would marry, he tells Calandrino that she's his wife.
  • At the end of the working day, Calandrino and the others come upon Niccolosa and Filippo in the courtyard. Calandrino struts around like a peacock to catch Niccolosa's eye.
  • Everyone thinks he's hilarious and Niccolosa encourages him, while Filippo turns a blind eye and pretends not to notice.
  • When they leave, Bruno tells Calandrino that he has Niccolosa eating out of the palm of his hand. If he'd just bring his rebec and play her some love tunes, she'd throw herself at him.
  • So he plays his ridiculous love songs, much to the entertainment of everyone, and follows Niccolosa around like a puppy dog.
  • Bruno also convinces him to send her love letters and delivers letters to Calandrino from Niccolosa. In short, they have a good laugh at his expense for two months.
  • As the job draws to a close, Calandrino gets frantic. What happens if he can't bed Niccolosa before they leave?
  • So Bruno promises that he'll make Niccolosa give in to him before long.
  • He tells Calandrino to gather up some items so that Bruno can make a "magic" scroll that will help him. Among these items: a live bat. Calandrino spends all night catching one.
  • Bruno makes the magic parchment scroll and tells Calandrino to touch Niccolosa with it and then take her up to the barn to take what he wants.
  • Meanwhile, Nello joins in the fun and travels back to Florence to cause trouble with Tessa.
  • He explains that Calandrino has been carrying on with a harlot and that Tessa should come and catch him.
  • Back at the house, Filippo pretends to leave for Florence the minute they see Tessa arriving. Calandrino takes his chance and touches Niccolosa with the scroll and then takes her to the barn.
  • Niccolosa plays her role well, following as if in a trance and then throwing him onto the hay and pretending to make love with him.
  • Just as Calandrino reaches up to kiss her, Tessa walks in. She sees Niccolosa straddling her husband and loses her mind.
  • She attacks Calandrino and claws his face with her nails, plus reads him the riot act.
  • And of course, his good friends Bruno, Buffalmacco and Nello are watching and having a good laugh.
  • In the end, Calandrino has to return to Florence with his very angry wife, who makes sure he knows just how awful a husband he really is.